from Vaughan Williams, Ralph, 1872-1958 to Howells, Herbert, 1892-1983

Letter No. VWL1608

Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Herbert Howells

Letter No.: VWL1608

From R. Vaughan Williams,
The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

Oct 12 [1939]

Dear Herbert

How good of you to write and send me all the messages from all my friends – to whom I request you to send my love with suitable actions.1
As to me there is nothing to report – I try to make myself useful in the small ways that come my way – committees etc & starting the village choirs going (they are all keen to carry on)2
I am also “digging for victory” – preparing a potato patch for next year when it will probably be all we shall have to live on
Also an essay on the 9th symphony!!3  How are you?  Has all this hit you very hard materially?  Urge the young people to keep their music going – so that they shall be there to carry on when we return to sanity
The latest bee in my bonnet is “Federal Union”  (Have you read Streit’s “Union Now” – you should, it is I believe the only solution). I am trying to get a branch started in Dorking.4


1.  Presumably Howells had written with 67th birthday greetings from VW’s friends at St Paul’s Girls School. The ‘actions’ were probably kisses.
2.  Although the Leith Hill Musical Festival had ceased in the First World War, in the second it continued to take place.
3.  VW’s essay ‘Some thoughts on Beethoven’s Choral Symphony’ was eventually published in his collection of writings under that title in 1953.
4.  Clarence K Streit, Union Now: A Plea for a Union of the Democratic Nations (London, 1939). A meeting of the Federal Union organisation had just been held in London on 4 October and had declared the following general aim: ‘I believe in a Federal Union of free peoples under a common government elected by and responsible to the people for their common affairs, with national self-government for national affairs as a first step towards democratic self-government for the prevention of war, the creation of prosperity and the preservation and promotion of individual liberty.’